Effects of davunetide on N-acetylaspartate and choline in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in patients with schizophrenia

Journal Article

Schizophrenia is associated with extensive neurocognitive and behavioral impairments. Studies indicate that N-acetylaspartate (NAA), a marker of neuronal integrity, and choline, a marker of cell membrane turnover and white matter integrity, may be altered in schizophrenia. Davunetide is a neurotrophic peptide that can enhance cognitive function in animal models of neurodegeneration. Davunetide has recently demonstrated modest functional improvement in a study of people with schizophrenia. In a subset of these subjects, proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1 H-MRS) was conducted to explore the effects of davunetide on change in NAA/creatine (NAA/Cr) and choline/creatine (choline/Cr) over 12 weeks of treatment. Of 63 outpatients with schizophrenia who received randomized davunetide (5 and 30 mg/day) or placebo in the parent clinical trial, 18 successfully completed 1 H-MRS in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) at baseline and at 12 weeks. Cognition was assessed using the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB). NAA/Cr was unchanged for combined high-and low-dose davunetide groups (N=11). NAA/Cr in the high-dose davunetide group (N=8) suggested a trend increase of 8.0% (P=0.072) over placebo (N=7). Choline/Cr for combined high-and low-dose davunetide groups suggested a 6.4% increase (P=0.069), while the high-dose group showed a 7.9% increase (P=0.040) over placebo. Baseline NAA/Cr correlated with the composite MCCB score (R=0.52, P=0.033), as did individual cognitive domains of attention/vigilance, verbal learning, and social cognition; however, neither metabolite correlated with functional capacity. In this exploratory study, 12 weeks of adjunctive davunetide appeared to produce modest increases in NAA/Cr and choline/Cr in DLPFC in people with schizophrenia. This is consistent with a potential neuroprotective mechanism for davunetide. The data also support use of MRS as a useful biomarker of baseline cognitive function in schizophrenia. Future clinical and preclinical studies are needed to fully define the mechanism of action and cognitive effects of davunetide in schizophrenia. © 2013 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jarskog, LF; Dong, Z; Kangarlu, A; Colibazzi, T; Girgis, RR; Kegeles, LS; Barch, DM; Buchanan, RW; Csernansky, JG; Goff, DC; Harms, MP; Javitt, DC; Keefe, RS; McEvoy, JP; McMahon, RP; Marder, SR; Peterson, BS; Lieberman, JA

Published Date

  • 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 38 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 1245 - 1252

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0893-133X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/npp.2013.23